At the end of May, a team consisting of Eric Carter, Nick Elson and Colin Healy set the standard for Liberty Ridge with time.9:11 Car to carThis includes approaching and climbing Liberty Ridge, exiting the Liberty Cap, walking a mile to the true summit of Tahoma (Mount Rainier), and then skiing the Emmons Glacier to the Trailhead. We had already planned to go to Tahoma for the Liberty Ridge ski when we heard the fast time. At first we were not inclined to seek our new speed, we logically knew that good conditions prevail over reason, and we should only pursue it.We had a long friendly match with Nick and Eric. Years ago, we wanted to set FKT to Tahoma. We only had 48 hours of free time, so we went to Washington, where we skied as much as we could, and finally climbed a mountain and accidentally got out of Paradise, in the Niskwali River Basin, out of white conditions. We did this in about 5 hours and were convinced that with better navigation and conditions we could ski Tahoma much faster. The following year, a few weeks before we could return to the effort, Nick and Eric adjusted the FKT to a car time of 4:19. We tried again a few weeks later and managed to reduce that time3:57The following year, Eric and Nick took the last laugh and went to the summit and back3:51We have not yet come to try again in a disappointing faster way, but we were excited to continue the friendly competition in the most attractive and technical Liberty Ridge.
As part of our preparation for the quest for speed, we need to place our equipment only on the equipment we need and then select the lightest functional version of those items. Fortunately, mountaineering and mountaineering equipment has improved a lot in recent years, and we now have some of the most engineered equipment.
We knew this climb would be more on snow, but we may need technical tools and bottlenecks with the ability to cut short icy ice, especially to cross the high ridge. We both chose Grivel North Machine Ice tools due to high weight and Grivel Skitour cramps With combined steel toe and aluminum heel. This is actually a plan that we tried to do a few years ago, but our smooth cramps actually failed. The Skitour crampon is designed to be used with ski boots because the clasping mechanism is on the toe and not the heel so as not to interfere with the ski / walking mechanism of a ski boot. This may not seem like a big deal, but in practice it saves a few seconds with each transfer.
We also used skis and skis, hair skins, ski cramps, ski mountaineering braces and full carbon ski mountaineering boots. When you look at each piece of gear, the overall effect is huge. I think our packages and general equipment weighed half as much as our regular mountaineering cousins, although we also carried a light rope and glacier equipment.
In the way of nutrition, we believe that the only thing that should be dogmatic is to never be dogmatic. The following tips are simply helpful to us. It is always a good practice to test your nutrition and gear selection before any serious race or day in the mountains.
Before a big event, we knew it was important for the body to fire with clean energy. Leaving Washington for Salt Lake, we stopped at a grocery store and bought dried fruits, cherries, kale salad, tomatoes, and more to use. This is a big improvement over our bad historical choices in fast food. We both felt that our gut health and energy levels were better for it.
In the planning stage, another consideration is the amount of liquid to carry. In trying to find the right balance between weight and speed, weather and duration of effort seem to be the most important factors. During our quick effort it was hot and we decided to carry a little more than usual. About two liters while losing weight in the mountains is important, but if not consumed in the package, it is of little use. For easy swallowing, we have attached a soft flask with liquid to the shoulder strap of our packages. With such a configuration, we were able to easily sip while moving until we had to stop to take a bottle out of our packages. A bladder with a tube is also sufficient, but we tend to avoid this system in the event of a freeze.
Calories are also essential for sustainable performance, but eating fast can be difficult. For every hard work of more than an hour and a half, we prefer at least 100 calories per hour. To optimally speed up Liberty Ridge, we optimistically planned about seven hours. Based on past experience, we both knew we could handle this rate, and maybe even a little more. We mixed more than 1,000 calories in the form of gels in our bottles with sports drinks. Some people may not tolerate such a concoction of syrup, but this is the fastest way we have discovered to consume calories and fluids. In addition, all possible clutter and debris from the night before will be removed.Again, calorie transport and in fact calorie consumption are very different. For both of us, focusing on the task at hand is really easy, and we never actually eat or drink. We worked hard in the past, but we learned our lesson. Low blood sugar is not only unfortunate, but can also be very dangerous in technical terms. We now have a rule that we must eat and drink something hard every hour. We watch every two hours and do a great job of reminding us to drink or eat something.Another point is that moderate caffeine consumption has been shown to improve the performance of endurance training. Many studies have shown this progress in much shorter and more intense efforts, but to some extent, we enjoy additional stimuli, especially in the morning hours when most of these foolish efforts begin.That way, we were really eager to get started. On Friday afternoon, we recognized the start and decided to start with running shoes, as the first two miles of the trail were a mess of snow, mud and dry tracks. This may be against some people’s ethics, but we have always felt that the best exercise is the most effective.On Saturday morning, we easily woke up before the 4:00 am bell rang. We walked fast / in the dim light before morning and tried to avoid running because we knew we had to speed up our efforts.Everything went according to plan for about an hour. We felt strong, the situation was fast, of course a little hot, and we were ahead of the speed. This is as long as you ski while cutting your skin through a small depression just before the tree line. The day is over. Broken skiing showed our broken ambitions. St. Elmo’s pass seemed just minutes away, but we were done before we could really start.We immediately got on the phone and frantically started calling Lars Cagentroen and Brian Harder, who were both on the mountain trail and hoping to ski with them the next day. None had skiing or extra access to the race. We skied / limped and started texting everyone we knew in PNW. Eric Carter gave me Colin Haley’s number and he generously offered his personal ski but it was not available until Monday. Patrick Fink contacted me with Ethan Link, he did footwork to find Todd Kilcup, he also generously allowed us to borrow our race skis. On another occasion, the straps were completely attached to Andy’s boots.Four hours later, we got skiing and were in the White River area, trying to rest for a second try. Unfortunately, we could not ski with our friends, but fortunately they started working much earlier and we hoped to have a boot on many trails. This was practically acceptable because the rangers reported a number of parties that were already on the way up.The next morning, around 4:40, we were closed. It was difficult to control the speed of work, but we knew that we were struggling with muscle cramps due to the high speed during the day. We did not request them, but they were shared by friends who spoke to Carter and his colleagues. We can say from the beginning that we had a good time and we were very motivated and we talked along the forest section.A little over 1:30 we passed St. Elmo, looked at the Winthrop Glacier, and were really excited. The whole route was planned and the day was clear and quiet. We jumped through the glacier, jumped into small pieces, and fortunately found our way to the carbon glacier at the low point of Curtis Ridge.
While carrying standard equipment, we thought about boarding, but the route was clear because the other parties had found the best way. There was only a relatively rough snow bridge that crossed just above the ridge, where we stopped for a moment to drink and eat. It was 2:45 and we were still feeling strong. In addition, our friends were visible, moving towards Thumb Rock, and we eagerly awaited a little distraction from talking to them.Brian and Tyler stepped aside talking and cheering. Lars tried to make sure the boots were well cleaned. We tried to get him to gather the rest with us because he is stronger than the cow, but he is a good friend and partner and stayed with the other kids.On the east side of the ridge, the sun was boiling and we really started to slow down. We both thought that our pelvic floor flexors and flexor muscles were betraying us while we were feeling cramped. We never felt the aerobic tax, but we still agreed that a steady pace, even if slow, was the best strategy. We had a hard time moving ….We encountered Burgershand, and even if we knew we were going to climb it to the top, all the paths leading there were cleared with a slight current of rotation. There were a few new songs on the climber’s left that we reviewed before we came to our senses and committed to action.
Somehow, the governor started releasing the choke, and we were actually able to get to the real peak at a more reasonable speed. At 5:57 we hit the Columbia Crest and found about 12 people at the summit. It was a festive atmosphere, and we quickly came out as two laps with skinny skis, carbon boots, and skinny pants that seemed idiotically stupid. The people at this peak were kind and friendly and encouraged us to go skiing for the last time.None of us had ever ridden an Emmon Sky before, so we skied cautiously to Camp Sherman. From there we went right into the glacier and skidded through the absolutely horrible snow with the really horrible isothermal snow with absolute zero. In the forest, we walked and escaped from the Memorial Day crowd, until we reached our shoes.Jason wanted to be under pressure for 7 hours, but that ship went higher with other inefficiencies. We had two miles to run and ten minutes to do it. Even without skis, boots, ice tools, etc., we can hardly do this with special training. Regardless, the closer we got to each other, the more and more pressure we put on, protecting the last beam insanely through a piece of slutty snow.Stop the clock at 7:07, wI sat on the road for a few minutes, satisfied with the effort and the way I spent the day, before I made some food and waited for the children to finish their work. As they entered like wiser people, we encouraged them and slapped the top five for a successful mission around.